Sunday, July 19, 2015

Farm-to-table Dessert: Tarte Tatin

On my flight home from Milan, I carried with me a bunch of random food items - among them fruits and butter. I am not exactly sure whether I broke any law or regulations by this, but anyway they went home safely.

When I spotted those apples at the farmer's market in Milan, I immediately wanted to bring them home and knew exactly what I wanted to make with them. I bought a copper tarte tatin pan a few months ago which I haven't had a chance to use yet, so I want to do my first trial using these apples which came directly from the farm.

So just as I slowly settled back at home with most of my stuff unpacked, I did my first tarte tatin trial and it worked quite well. The recipe was based on the one from Los Angeles Times and I made minor modifications, plus I threw in a whisky cream that I made real quick using 3 simple ingredients that I thought worked well with the tart. Some recipes called for ready-made puff pastry but it's almost as easy making one from scratch.

Recipe: Tarte Tatin with Whisky Cream


Tart Base: Pate Brisee
  • 1 cup of plain flour, plus more for dusting
  • 6 tablespoon of chilled butter (3/4 stick)
  • 3 tablespoon of ice water
  • Pinch of salt
Tarte Tatin Filling
  • 5 Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored and cut into large wedge.
  • 6 tablespoon butter (room temperature) (3/4 stick)
  • 0.5 cup of sugar
Whisky Cream
  • 125 ml of whipping cream (0.5 cup)
  • 0.5 tablespoon of icing sugar
  • 0.5 tablespoon of whisky

In a bowl, put in flour and salt and mix well. Cut butter in small pieces and either use you hand or fork, mix and press the butter into the flour until it's well integrated. Sprinkle water over the bowl, one tablespoon at a time, and start mixing and whipping lightly with a fork. The dough should start to stick together slowly. Add more water if necessary. Knead the dough gently and press into a flat disc. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least half an hour for the dough to firm up.

In another bowl, mix butter and sugar together with fork or your hands until well-combined. Spread the mixture evenly at the bottom of the copper tarte tatin pan. Then working from the outside ring, begin to lay apple wedges on top in a circle, overlapping each other. Continue until all the apples have been used.

Place the pan on the stove and heat over in medium-high setting. The butter-sugar mixture should soon start bubbling and gradually turned into a golden brown caramel, in about 20 minutes. After 15 minutes watch carefully and stop when the caramel turned too dark - you want it burnt a little bit but you don't want to over-do.

Meanwhile, pre-heat the over to 190C. When the caramel is done, remove the pan from the heat and set aside briefly. Remove the pate brisee pastry from the refrigerator and start rolling out on a floured surface to about 12 inches in diameter and in even thickness. Make sure the pastry is a couple inches bigger than your pan. Carefully use the roller to help lift the rolled dough and cover the tarte tatin pan. Tuck the border in around the apples - the tart is supposed to be rustic and non-uniform so don't worry about it if it's a bit messy on the edge, as long as the apples and caramel was fully covered inside the dough.

Place the pan in the oven and bake for 40 minutes, until the pastry is set and browned on top. Meanwhile, prepare the whisky cream by mix everything together in a bowl and whisk (by hand of by machine) until the cream was stiffened. Set aside.

Remove the pan from the oven, cool the tart slightly, then place a large round plate on top of the pan and carefully turn the pan upside down to remove the tart. Cut the tart in wedges and topped with a generous spoonful of cream. Keep the leftover cream in the fridge - it should be good for a few days.

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